Today I want to introduce you to this amazing new young adult book I found. It is by author K.S. Carol, who is not new to writing, but new to this genre. K.S. Carol is a pen name used to keep the authors adult and young adult novels separate. I love this exciting and original novel that will rip you out of your everyday life and toss you in to the fantasy world Carol has created. The Orchard is a great book for all ages and with school just starting what better to do than get this book and read.
I was provided with a sample to share with you today and hope it hooks you as much as it did me. You can purchase K.S. Carol's series most places books are sold on line or follow this link to AMAZON for a quick purchase.
“Do you think I have made the wrong decision, my lord?” Elizabeth was bowed before him as she asked, but didn’t miss the look of pain that flickered over his face.
Elizabeth had been putting this meeting off for days. Now she had no choice but to talk to him. When his lordship summoned, you went. She’d run across the fields, hardly noticing the green grass or the moon that shone over her head. She’d hurried, minding only that she didn’t slip, didn’t fall, her mind a whirlwind of activity.
“That is not a question for me to answer, Lady Elizabeth,” he said softly. “Only you can know. Does your heart tell you that you’ve made the wrong choice?”
“It tells me that I am correct. But my head, my lord, it says that I am making a grave mistake in leaving my countrymen in peril.” The tears she had been fighting threatened again. She knew it was stupid to cry, but there was no stopping them.
“Bah! Which do you think will keep you warmer at night—your heart or your head? You have a child now that you must concern yourself with. There will be others to care for the kingdom.”
She didn’t think he sounded so sure, but she made no comment. She felt him shift then, the air around them hot and heavy. The odors from the room they were in stirred and she thought of flowers in the spring and burning leaves in the fall. She could almost taste it on her tongue and opened her mouth wider to bring in more of the calming scent. She chanced a quick glance and saw his shining green eyes staring at her. Bowing her head again, she thought of the stories she had heard about him as a young speck and wondered if any or all of them were true.
“They are not all true, but there are some that are. I will not take the time to tell you that some things are better left to their own, including rumors.” His laughter was short and bitter sounding even to her ears. “Rumors are what brought us all here in the first place. You should know better than anyone that they usually hold little of what is the truth.”
She had forgotten that he could read her mind so easily here in this place of magic. She tried to think of something mundane and a sudden flare of swimming in the pond nude last night came to mind.
“That is enough, Lady Elizabeth. You’d do well to stop that thought. I would prefer that there still be secrets between us and your body is something that I would include in that list of things. If you would like, I can stop listening to your thoughts if you would tell me what has brought you out into the darkness to my home.” He cleared his throat before continuing. “When I asked you here it was to be when you could come at your earliest convenience and not before my message had cooled from my mouth. ‘Tis late and you are well into your pregnancy to be out traversing alone.”
“I come when you need me, my lord. You know that I belong only to you at times like this. But I worry. I worry about you, the kingdom, the people. As your champion, I feel as if I’ve failed—”
“Do no finish that or you shall make me upset with you.” He shifted again. This time she smiled when he huffed. “All right, tell me. Tell me what worries you so. And do not mention to me that you have failed me again.”
“My lord, what will happen now? I wonder of this child. I wonder if this one will follow in our ways to protect your lands.” Elizabeth had tried to think of a solution to keep the kingdom safe and she could not think of a thing. Only his lordship could make the final say.
She hoped for a son, but knew that if he willed it, the child would be his if it were female. She realized he had been quiet for a long while and thought that maybe he had not heard her, but at the same time knew that he could hear a twig snap halfway round the world.
“Not quite that far, my lady.” His laughter made her smile again. “We must have a champion—one that will protect and serve the kingdom for all time, one that will keep us safe. The child you carry is a male. He will be strong and wise beyond his years, handsome of face and of heart, just as you have been and are even now. He and those thereafter will sire the female that will carry the link to the champion. They will sire the next generation of Keepers until she is born. She alone will carry my mark. I ask that you will train the female child of your line so that she will train the next and then the next down through the centuries. Will you teach her the ways of the kingdom, train her to keep it safe? She will have what we want, what we will need. Do you accept this need, Lady Elizabeth, Princess of the Fae?”
“Yes, my lord,” she told him without hesitation. “You may depend upon us. But who will watch over us all, my lord? If there is no champion for many centuries to come, who will protect those within from harm?” Her heart pounded in her chest as she thought of those she was leaving unprotected because she had fallen in love. But she wisely said nothing. She did not what him to be upset with her again.
“Calm yourself and listen to me.” She took several deep breaths to do just what he’d commanded her to do. “I have been the sole protector before and, though you are no longer my champion of blade, you will continue to protect us with your magic.” He lowered his voice as he continued. “The one we seek, she will bring back the life. She alone will finish the quest and she will bring all the magic from her heart to us. It will be her blood that gives us life.”
“This champion, my lord, how will we know who she is?” Her fear slipped in her voice and she hated that. “What if something happens and she is not born? How then would we survive?” She knew as soon as the words left her mouth that he not only knew the answer, but had already seen it. His next comment told her that he had.
“She will be born. I have foreseen it. She will be the greatest of all, even more than you have been.” She heard his body scrape along the stone of his lair before he spoke again. “Give me your hand so that I may take a drop of your blood to sustain us.”
Elizabeth did not hesitate this time either, but gave him her hand. The prick of her skin was small considering the massiveness of the claw that had nipped her. The small amount of her pure fae blood did not harm her or the child, but she knew that its purity would help all of them.
She had been champion for many years, more than she cared to think about. She had slain many and protected a score more. Elizabeth didn’t give fear a second glance, but leaving all that she knew and loved without protection scared her not just a little bit.
His sigh told her that he’d taken it in his mouth. She knew that her blood was only part of the power that made them what they were, secluded and secure. It was him and his energy that gave them whatever they needed when they needed it for all of time.
“Go in peace, my lady,” he told her after a few minutes. “I have much to do, as do you. And I thank you.”
She left the dwelling of her king reluctantly, but not without another backward glance. He was there just beyond the darkness, his bright green eyes shining back to brighten the path she walked along.
Envir watched Elizabeth leave with a heavy heart. He knew that while she was strong in her conviction that she would keep the kingdom safe, she could not see all that would befall them. He had seen the child born, seen her become the champion, but he did not see if she succeeded. And that one thing may be the end of all that he had ever known.
He shifted into a more manageable form, a human. He knew he needed to go and prepare the kingdom for what was to come and for the very long road ahead of them. He hoped that he was wrong, it had happened plenty before, but he knew deep into his heart that this time he was correct. They were in for a very long and hard time of it. He looked down at the stone beneath his lair and spoke to the woman lying there so still.
“I love you very much, my dear. I miss you more with each passing year and wish to join you. But now is not the time. Sadly, we have come to the point in this venture that we feared would come.” He looked out over the fields of his home and sent the spell to close it off. “We are going to be so alone here for a time. A long time, I think. She will come and when she does, I will lay beside you for all our times.”
His ability to go between worlds would be the only thing that saved them right now and he hoped that humans would be more tolerant than they had been in past dealings. He also hoped that he would be able to hold onto what little magic was left until the champion could make herself known to them all.
He moved to the streets of the land he had once called home. He could feel the magic here, the others like him that needed peace. He could feel the first trickle of the champion too, her family’s fae blood calling to him. He moved to the offices of his old allies, the ones who would set things up for him, and entered the office without anyone but them being the wiser.
“My lord. We did not expect you today. You said…please, have a seat. Let me go and get my brothers.” The vampire rushed from the room, the bright light shining behind him. “I’ll only be a moment.”
He’d approached the vampires just after he’d stumbled over the way to keep his friends safe. They’d agreed to do his bidding; in exchange, he’d give them the ability to walk during the day. They’d been around for nearly as long as the earth had been created.
“My lord.” Envir turned to the men as they walked in and closed the door. “I hope that things are well. We have not…you must tell us what you are in need of. You know that we are here only to serve you.”
Envir smiled. “Yes. I know that. I have something to tell you. And a task, a large one that will require you to be on your toes. We have a champion coming. I’m not sure of the year when she will come. I see many things in my visions of her, many things yet to come, and more so that will change the very fabric of all our lives.”
They both sat down and began making notes. He knew that they would do their very best. These men were loyal to a fault and would die making his wishes come to fruition. When they both looked up at him he knew that he’d been quiet for too long and smiled. He had a great deal to tell them and should get on with it.
“She will be born in a time of great speed. She will be powerful, yet she will be humble. You will need to protect the world. Protect it now more than ever.” He had a bit of fear. Something was going to happen before she was born that would change things if not… “You will watch over the fae of this world. They will need you when things are at their worst, when things are moving the most in other directions.”
“You can count on us, my lord.” Envir looked at Paul Wilkins. “But you know better, do you not? It is something that will…please tell us what we are to do, sire, and I swear to you we will do our best to protect you.”
“I don’t see what befalls her. She will be…stubborn and she will be very upset. I’m not sure what has happened, but she will be hardest to convince. You’ll need to keep an eye on them until a time when you can approach her. Her name will mean ‘dawn,’ and she will brighten the paths.”
He flushed when he realized what he’d said, but neither man seemed to notice. They were too busy taking notes. He had to smile when he thought of some of the things he’d seen in his visions.
“There will be some things you will need to invest in. Monetary investments as well as time and energy investments. Keep with them until the champion arrives. I fear you will need the monies over the centuries to sustain us.”
He started telling them about the automobile and then ended with the thing he hadn’t been able to name. He smiled when they looked at him with a slight frown.
“It will be powered by things we have no need of in my world. But I have told you what it looks like and I would like for you to invest.” He stood, his head hurting and his heart heavy. “I shall not be able to contact you until she comes. You will do as I ask then?”
Both of them nodded before they too stood. “You can depend on us, my lord. We will not let you down. We will make sure that everything is as you have requested.”
Envir was moving between the worlds when he realized he’d forgotten to tell them about the skip in time. There was something wrong. Something would happen to the line at one point and he…he didn’t know what it was. But as he could already feel the different areas closing off as he’d bid them to, he knew he needed to return to his castle or be locked away from it. But he’d spent too much time in the human world and had to settle in the lair. He didn’t mind so much. He was close to his Illuminaria, just where he wanted…needed to be.
As he shifted to his true self, Envir settled his large, scaled body against the back of the cave. Dragons like him needed the deepness of the lair to keep warm and he was afraid he’d be here for a very long time to come.
Aurora looked at the man seated across from her behind the big desk, then at the man sitting next to her. They had to be insane because there was no way what they were telling her could be anything but insanity. Either that or she had to believe that someone was playing a huge prank on her.
“You say that my mother was supposed to receive this rug on her twenty-fifth birthday and she was supposed to take care of it so I can do the same?” She glanced over at the rug in question before turning back to the men. “My mother could barely finish one project before she started another. I don’t know why you’d think she could have watched something else.”
“Tapestry,” Ronan Wilkins said for the tenth time since she’d entered the office. “It’s something that your family has been doing for centuries, Ms. Kirkpatrick. You are unfortunately the last of your line as your mother had no male children. We have a summons from the company that funds this endeavor and he has yet to return our calls.”
Mr. Wilkins fussed with the papers on his desk again. She wanted to punch him in the nose. Instead, she took a deep breath. It would do her little good to lose her temper with him. “And why, again, didn’t my mother have the rug?” She called it a rug just to irritate him this time. “You said something about my birth. I don’t understand what you mean.”
“It’s a tapestry, Ms. Kirkpatrick, not a rug. The previous Keeper, your grandmother, felt that your mother was...that is to say, she thought she was...” He looked to his partner for help, she realized, and so did she.
Aurora smiled when she figured it out. “You mean she thought my mother was a lazy flake. Ah, well that explains it then. I never met my grandmother, though I’m sure she knew about my existence, but that’s neither here nor there.”
“She was aware,” he told her quickly. “Your mother, she kept you from her for a time. Then when you reached a time when she could approach you, it was nearly too late. Then she couldn’t find the two of you.”
Aurora nodded. “When I was six years old my mother sold every possession we owned in order to join this get rich quick scheme. This was going to make it so we’d never have to move again when she couldn’t pay the rent. Three weeks later, when it had fallen through, we were homeless and broke. When I was ten she decided that she was going to sell herbal supplements. She sold our car—my only means to get back and forth to school mind you—to buy her kit. She took two orders and quit. Then several years ago she ‘borrowed’ money from me to sell something else that was going to pave the way to better things. That one lasted longer than most, an entire month before she quit. If my mother is involved in a deal, then I want no part of it. I really can’t blame my grandmother for staying away. I would have too had I been able to. My entire life was spent trying to dig us out of whatever hole she managed to drop us into.”
The Wilkins men both shifted in their seats. Good, she thought, if you open a box, you can’t be surprised when the stupid thing is filled with a lot of crap and very little help.
“It pays well—untold riches and luxuries.” She frowned at the other man; his name escaped her. “You need only to take it into your keeping and the money and whatever else the estate deems your needs are, you will have. I’m told it is more than enough to keep you well compensated for your entire life.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that before too.” Money was not on her list of priorities. She only wanted enough to pay her bills and to put some away for a rainy day if she could. “If it paid well then why didn’t my grandmother give my mother, or at least me, a better life? I don’t think so, Mr. Wilkins. I would like the money and would love to help out, but I can’t help but think of all the other things my mother thought would do the same thing. I’ve been doing fine on my own and I’ll continue to do so.” She stood up and walked to the door. “I have to get back to work. I’m sure you gentlemen have other clients to take care of. Have a nice day.”
“Ms. Kirkpatrick, you need to take this seriously. From what I’ve been told, there are consequences to those who do not keep it safe. The money isn’t the only thing—”
She turned so quickly that both men jumped back. She’d not even been aware that they’d moved from their seats, they’d done it so quietly. And for whatever reasons, that made her madder. “Don’t threaten me, Mr. Wilkins. You think I give a rat’s bottom about a pretty picture sewn into a piece of linen? My mother was killed eight days ago and I didn’t find out until you sent me that stupid letter. We may not have been close, but she was still my mother.” Her head suddenly swam and she felt dizzy. “I’ve got to go. Don’t contact me again.”
Aurora stumbled out of the office door and then outside. Her head was splitting and she thought she might be sick. When her cell phone started to ring she nearly didn’t answer it. She sighed heavily when she saw who it was from. She pulled it to her ear, knowing that if she didn’t answer the caller would simply call until she did.
“So, how did the meeting go? Are you going to be rich beyond your wildest dreams? I hope you don’t forget the little guys on your way up,” Aimee Peterson said in way of greeting.
Aimee owned and operated the small shop on the east end that Aurora sold her handmade jewelry in. They had been friends since Aurora had wandered in one afternoon, being drawn there for a reason she had never tried too hard to figure out.
“No, not rich, just another job my mother left unfinished. I didn’t take it, needless to say—something about a rug. Can you still meet me for dinner? I want to pick up those pieces that you ordered for me.”
“Sure. I also have some requests too. One that is really weird even for my shop. I’ll meet you at the Barn after work. See ya.”
After Aurora put the phone back in her pocket and started for the garage she wondered about the request that Aimee had. There had only been a few over the last several months, mostly people wanting earrings changed from old fashioned clip-ons to the more traditional pierced type. Then a few weeks ago, someone had sent a piece of jade that Aimee had said the customer wanted Aurora to go wild with. The piece had made her feel odd, but she had made a very beautiful necklace with the unusual design. She wished now that she had asked if it was the same person.
Aurora got back to her job five minutes early. She had asked for and received a half day to finish up with the lawyers and now thought she would have been better off if she had not wasted her morning. She ground her teeth harder when she thought of the way the firm had threatened her with consequences—like she didn’t have enough going on right now. At five o’clock she was very ready to go home.
Her job was not all that hard; she worked for a nice little insurance firm as their secretary/receptionist. She had always been very organized in her life, some would say too organized. But at some point in her childhood she had come to the realization that someone had to be the adult in her family and it was not going to be her mother. By the time Aurora was seven, she was getting her mother going every day to get to her job, herself to school, and making sure that all the bills, including the rent on their one-bedroom apartment, was paid every month. When Aurora had turned sixteen, already working a part-time job at the local pizza shop, she could balance a checkbook, make dinner, and keep the house, what there was of it, clean. At eighteen she had a permanent full-time job and was making enough money to move out on her own and buy a decent car. Her mother had moved to Florida and called Aurora only when she wanted money or was in a bind with some man, which to Aurora amounted to the same thing.
After she and Aimee had ordered burgers with fries and a beer each, the women settled down to business. Not the kind of business that involved any sort of work, but the business of catching up from last week and everything that had happened. Aimee had a new boyfriend, there was nothing new in that, but this man was different she had said, also nothing new, and he made her feel like she was someone special.
“You are someone special. Everyone should treat you that way. And you shouldn’t let guys walk all over you. It’s not good for women everywhere.” Aurora smiled when Aimee blushed.
“This from the woman who would rather sit at home with a good book than try and find someone to spend your life with. When are you going to start dating again, love? You know that you have to play the lottery to win the big prize.”
It wasn’t that Aurora didn’t like men; she just didn’t trust them, anyone for that matter. Her last boyfriend had freaked out when she had tried to show him what she could do. That was two years ago and she had not been out since.
Being a person with telekinetic power made her feel a little freakish herself, but when he had run from the room screaming, literally, after she had brought a book across the room she figured she was supposed to be alone. At least for now. She decided it was time to change the subject.
“Let me see those pieces you’ve brought. And the strange order, was it the same man as the last time?” Aurora looked at the small box and shuddered. Evil.
She had no idea where that thought had come from, but she knew as sure as she was sitting there that something evil was in the box of beads and wires. She looked up at Aimee and knew that she had no idea of what she had brought Aurora.
“No, this was a woman actually. That piece is quite ugly if you ask me. She said that you should make it into a charm. I think it would make a better charm than a necklace for the simple reason you could cover it up with your sleeve rather than have anyone look at it around your neck.” Aimee poured out all the pieces on the table and picked up one that had been left by a customer only that morning to have made into a bracelet. She wanted it to wear with a silver chain in any design.
It was quite pretty really, a piece of lapis that Aurora might have picked out for herself if she wore jewelry. It was a knotted-looking thick cut of dark blue that looked like it might be a cross of some sort. The stone itself was very dark, indicating that it was quite old and there were streaks of red, like blood, throughout it. It was also not the piece that was giving her the bad vibrations. Aurora did not touch it nonetheless.
The next few pieces were things that she had ordered. There was a bright blue piece of glass that had been shaped into a small robin’s egg and had a loop of glass fashioned at the top to hang. There was also a small frog that Aurora could see hanging from a chain of chainmaille from around someone’s neck. She smiled. The last few were bags of wire to shape into rings and long pens that she would hang other pieces she already had in her massive collection. The last thing on the table was in a dark bag made of what looked to be silk and tied at the top with a string of the same material. Aurora took a deep, calming breath as Aimee poured the gem out into her palm to show Aurora.
“This is one I was telling you about. Isn’t it ugly? I almost choked when she showed it to me.”
It was a rectangular shaped piece of dark material, black with dark green and darker red jagged strips running through it. There was no visible means of hanging it and for some reason, Aurora could see silver wrapped around it, crisscrossing back and forth over it and then looping in and over it several times. The means of wrapping it around the wearer’s wrist would be a leather strip at about an inch wide and braided. The braids would have beads of silver in the braid itself. There would be longer, varying strips of leather hanging from it with a single bead at the tip of each of them. There was something else about the piece, something that terrified Aurora enough that she wanted to run from it.
The piece glowed. Not just in the bright light of the restaurant, but she had seen the glow within the bag before it had been taken out. When she had been about to ask Aimee about it she heard a whisper of someone saying to her, “No, she doesn’t know. Only you see it.” She had bit the inside of her mouth to keep from screaming.
She’d heard the voice before. Not in recent years, probably since she’d been a child, but it scared her nonetheless. Looking at the piece in her friend’s hand, Aurora simply kept her mouth shut.
“Can you work with these pieces, or should I just send them back? The one that’s ugly the woman put a deposit down of a hundred bucks for. No small change if you ask me, especially since I know that you won’t charge her near that much to make the piece.”
“No, I’ll do it. Just let’s put them back in the box. I think that’s our food coming now.” Aurora wanted to get it to her home before she touched it. Touching it in her special room would be the only time she would allow herself to try it.
When Aurora had been small she realized she was different than most kids. Well, that wasn’t quite true. She knew she was different a lot longer than that, but she hadn’t known just how different until later. Not only because she was smarter, because she was that, but because she could do things. Things that she was reasonably sure she would be in trouble for if others found out she could do them.
In addition to the telekinesis, she could also touch someone and read their thoughts. Not everyone, just most people. Her mother was one that she could not read. Aurora could also take a plant near death and blow across it or even touch it and within several hours, depending on how near death it was, it would come back to its healthy state. She did not have plants in her house anymore because they would grow so quickly and so large that people would begin to ask how she did it, and since she did not know herself, it was just easier to not have them around. But there was one thing she could do that terrified her more than anything. It was the ability to heal.
The first time it had happened, she had been about ten. The neighbor’s child had been shot during a drive-by. Their neighborhood was not the best and drug dealers were out in a constant parade every night. One night during a territorial fight, shots were fired.
Aurora had been out on the front porch with her best friend enjoying the July evening. The shouts and then the guns going off had made both little girls duck for cover. When Aurora raised her head, Charity Barr did not. She lay in a pool of her own blood, her breathing fading along with her heartbeat. Aurora had picked her up, wanting to pull her to safety, when her hands started to burn where she touched Charity’s cooling skin. As she watched in horrified fascination, the bullet that had entered the girl’s chest popped out and the wound closed up. There had been no scar, nor had there been any bruising. Aurora dropped Charity as soon as she opened her eyes and stood up. That’s when the pain started. Hard and fast, her own chest tore open, blood poured out from the opening, and Aurora dropped to the concrete step beneath her. Just as quickly as it had started, the pain and the blood disappeared, leaving a mark an inch around. Aurora still carried the small scar that looked like a bullet wound on her left breast. Neither she nor Charity had ever told anyone what had happened, nor had they discussed it again after that night. They vowed that they would never tell anyone, not that they thought that anyone would believe them. Both girls had remained best friends ever since.
At eleven o’clock, Aurora was home and in bed. She finished reading the last few pages of her book then rolled over and closed her eyes. She counted sheep and when she got to two thousand and four, she fell asleep. I actually made it to less than five thousand was her last thought before drifting off.